You may have a newspaper article in the past with a headline that read something like, “Safety a Priority After Worker Death.” Notice the word After.
When reading a story describing a death or a serious injury, you may think, “Well, of course safety is a priority after someone dies.” But the importance of making safety a priority tends to wane when we get busy with other business responsibilities.
Nothing seems to get employers more fired up about safety than a bad accident. Worse yet, nothing puts safety on a small-business owner’s radar as quickly as an on-the-job fatality. No one is more passionate about safety than an employee who just witnessed a friend and co-worker die or got severely injured on the job. Even a surprise L&I inspection will motivate management towards focusing on safety.
So why do safety-related tasks often end up lower on the to-do list? Often it is because business owners are busy trying to cover the basics of operating the company and leaving safety “issues” for another day. Too many organizations fall into the after trap and focus on safety after a bad accident or a death when it is obviously too late. Safety must be a core value embedded into a firm’s daily operating principles and strategies. A proactive organization will be safer and experience lower operating costs in the long run.
With the start of a new year, you can make a conscious effort to make safety a part of your everyday tasks and priorities and build it into the company’s culture, avoiding the after trap! If you need help getting started, give me a call. Or, if you need help rebooting or kickstarting your safety program, I would be happy to help you.
Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or [email protected].
Excerpts from EHS magazine, Josh Cable, 2014.01.28